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Are Canadians dreaming of owning a home? It’s complicated: RBC Poll

  • 36% of non-homeowners under 40 have given up on the dream of owning a home
  • 62% of Canadians say most people will be priced out of the housing market in the next decade
  • 60% of Canadians likely to buy in the next two years are saving $789/month on average

TORONTO, April 12, 2021 - Planning to move on or move in? Canadians are split between giving up on ever buying a home or putting away money to save for one. According to the RBC Spring Housing Poll, nearly two-in-five non-homeowners under 40 (36%) say they will never own a home and 62% of all Canadians surveyed believe the majority of people will be priced out of the market in the next decade. For others, the pandemic has provided an opportunity to increase their overall savings, with 44% of all respondents saying they have saved more over the last year. For those likely to buy a home in the next two years, the poll also found that 60% are saving monthly, putting away $789 on average each month for a home.

“The road to home ownership isn’t always easy and the last year has created both challenges and opportunities for home buyers,” said Amit Sahasrabudhe, Vice-President, Home Equity Financing, Products and Acquisitions, RBC. “Potential homebuyers need to look at their personal financial situation as well as the current economic environment as both can have a big impact on the ability to purchase a home.”

When it comes to purchase intention, despite 54% of Canadians polled saying it is a sellers’ market (up from 41% last year, highest since 2009), there is a large increase in Canadians who are considering buying a home in the next two years (30%, up 8% from 2020). This rises to 49% for those respondents under 40 years of age and 66% for new Canadians who have been in the country less than five years.

Many factors are on the minds of Canadians when thinking about whether to buy now or buy later. According to the poll results, interest rates and concerns that homes will become less affordable are key reasons why many Canadians are considering buying sooner. In fact, 41% of Canadians surveyed are thinking about buying a home sooner because of low interest rates and 61% believe home values will only go up in the immediate future. Four-in-five Canadians also continue to see housing as a good investment (83%) and the majority say it is better to buy than rent (56%). The key drivers among those waiting to buy a home include uncertainty about the economy (56%, up from 40%), a belief that prices may come down (41%), affordability issues (35%) and job anxiety (30%).

“Historically low mortgage rates and continued economic uncertainty have created a lot of unknowns for home buyers,” says Sahasrabudhe. “As we continue into year two of the pandemic, knowing how much flexibility you have in your finances has never been more important. In addition to evaluating what you can afford now, potential home buyers should put their finances through a stress test to see if they can continue to carry the cost of owning a home if interest rates increase or if they had an unexpected expense or income loss.”

Saving and Budgeting for a Home
While 60% of Canadians surveyed say they would not put themselves in a situation where they become “house poor”*, it might be easier said than done, especially in Canada’s priciest markets. Forty-eight per cent of survey respondents planning to purchase a home in the next two years say their budget is less than $500,000. Meanwhile, according to CREA, the average house price in Canada was $678,091 as of February 2021. (This rises to $864,159 and $887,695 in Ontario and British Columbia and decreases to $290,789 and $224,785 in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick respectively.) For those who currently own a home, 15% of respondents consider themselves to be house poor now.

When considering a down payment, almost nine-in-10 respondents who are likely to buy in the next two years have some money saved for a home purchase (86%), with $42,000 in savings on average. Forty per cent have less than $25,000 earmarked for their home purchase.

“Building up a down payment can often be the biggest barrier to buying a home, especially as prices continue to climb in the pandemic environment,” says Sahasrabudhe. “While everyone’s financial situation is different, many Canadians have been taking advantage of reduced spending over the year to build up their savings and get closer to making their dream of owning a home a reality.”

Sahasrabudhe adds that no matter when or where you are planning to buy, having access to the right information, resources and support can help you make the best choices for your financial situation and housing needs.

RBC has a number of digital tools and resources available to help Canadians through every stage of the home buying process:

  • RBC Mortgage Specialists are available to help support Canadians in their home buying journey when and where they need it, whether in branch, by phone or virtually.
  • RBC True House Affordability tool provides a personalized estimate on how much potential home buyers may be able to afford.
  • RBC Homebuyer Advantage provides step-by-step guides, tools, calculators and special offers to help Canadians through every step of the home buying experience.
  • RBC Neighbourhood Explorer can help you quickly narrow down your search to find the best areas to live that are most suited to your lifestyle.

National and Regional Data Tables


Question

Total

B.C.

Alberta

SK/MB

Ontario

Quebec

Atlantic
Canada

Non-homeowners under 40: I have given up on the dream of home ownership. (Strongly/Somewhat Agree)

36%

41%
(Western Canada)

39%

27%

N/A

I believe that the majority of Canadians will be priced out of the housing market in the next decade. (Strongly/Somewhat Agree)

62%

71%

65%

53%

71%

43%

63%

Likely to buy a home in the next two years: Are you putting aside money monthly to save for a new home purchase?

60%

60%
(Western Canada)

54%

70%

N/A

Likely to buy a home in the next two years: On average, how much money do you put aside every month to save for a new home purchase?

$789

$500
(Western Canada)

$1,000

$800

N/A

I have been able to save more money during the pandemic than I was able to beforehand. (Strongly/Somewhat Agree)

44%

45%

40%

43%

44%

48%

40%

I believe that we are currently in a sellers’ market

54%

62%

13%

35%

64%

59%

50%

How likely are you to purchase a home, or another home, within the next two years? (Very/Somewhat Likely)

30%

24%

33%

26%

28%

36%

27%

I am thinking about buying a home sooner because of lower interest rates (Strongly Agree/Somewhat Agree)

41%

39%

46%

36%

35%

52%

32%

I believe that home values will only go up in the immediate future (Strongly Agree/Somewhat Agree)

61%

72%

48%

58%

70%

51%

53%

I feel that housing is a very good/good investment.

83%

83%

81%

86%

83%

84%

82%

I think it makes more sense to buy than to rent right now (Strongly Agree/Somewhat Agree)

56%

56%

57%

59%

53%

57%

55%

It makes more sense to wait until next year to buy a house/condo instead of buying one now due to economic insecurity.

56%

56%

59%

N/A

63%

47%

N/A

It makes more sense to wait until next year to buy a house/condo instead of buying one now due to housing prices coming down

41%

45%

31%

N/A

42%

44%

N/A

It makes more sense to wait until next year to buy a house/condo instead of buying one now due to affordability issues

35%

43%

27%

N/A

44%

19%

N/A

It makes more sense to wait until next year to buy a house/condo instead of buying one now due to job anxiety

30%

27%

35%

N/A

35%

23%

N/A

I would not put myself in the position of being house poor

60%

58%

59%

62%

58%

66%

61%

Among homeowners: I consider myself to be house poor now

15%

11%

17%

16%

16%

14%

16%

Likely to buy a home in the next two years: If I were to purchase a new home, my budget would realistically be <$500,000.

48%

48%
(Western Canada)

32%

67%

N/A

Likely to buy a home in the next two years: Have some money saved for a down payment

86%

84%
(Western Canada)

85%

90%

N/A

Likely to buy a home in the next two years: Avg. amount of money saved for down payment

$42,000

$30,000
(Western Canada)

$50,000

$40,000

N/A

Likely to buy a home in the next two years: I have less than $25,000 earmarked for a home purchase

40%

45%
(Western Canada)

36%

35%

N/A

*“House poor” is a term that describes a person who over-extends themselves and spends an unusually large proportion of their total income (roughly 30-40% or more) on home ownership, including mortgage payments, property taxes, maintenance and utilities.

About The Survey
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between January 21 and 28, 2021 on behalf of RBC. For this survey, a sample of 2,000 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed online. Quotas and weighting were employed to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the Canadian population according to census parameters. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18+ been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to, coverage error and measurement error.

About RBC
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Media contact:
Jessica Weingarten, Paradigm Public Relations, 416-602-1853
Arjun Lombardi-Singh, RBC Communications, 647-531-4045